HR HeadStart #14: Uncertain Futures; Subtractive Problem Solving; The Future of Technology
The Talent Agenda
The pandemic shows no signs of abating, creating deep uncertainties for everyone. A number of companies had actively drawn out plans for return-to-office and hybrid working, but those have been thrown off track in several places. Uncertainties are not new to organizations and one of the most powerful ways to address them is through a technique called Scenario Planning, pioneered by Royal Dutch/Shell in the 1970s to predict oil production and prices. The idea is to identify the key sources of uncertainty for a business and imagine scenarios on how they could impact the organization. For example, in devising the HR plans for the year, we might consider two sources of uncertainty - 1) availability of talent and 2) state of the pandemic. If we plot these out on a simple matrix, we can immediately start thinking about how these scenarios might unfold and how we could react to them.
This is just an example, but you probably see the point: we humans are rather bad at predictions, so rather than making predictions it might be better to plan for multiple plausible scenarios. As young HR professionals, you may not be at the forefront of devising HR strategies for uncertain futures, but you can use this technique to clarify your thinking at work or even ace case interviews.
When asked to design or improve a solution, our brain's natural instinct is to add new features. Research shows that we might be limiting our creativity by ignoring a powerful problem solving strategy - subtraction. Far too often, we find HR processes which are clunky, duplicative and unwieldy. The answer might lie in the brilliant, but often over-looked, technique of subtraction.
A Productive Workout
So much is changing in the field of technology so fast, that it can be hard to keep up. For this week's workout, check out the presentation "Three Steps to the Future" by Benedict Evans. It talks about the future, present and the past of tech (in that order), presents key insights and poses powerful questions. If you are a chart nerd, you will love the deck. As you digest this (and it will take time), think about some of the following questions:
Which parts of the technology ecosystem do I need to spend more time understanding better? How can I go about this?
Which technology-led changes will mean for you or your organization?
What opportunities will these create for HR?
Things that often reduce odds of long-term success:
A lack of focus.
A lack of patience.
Focusing on yourself.
The wrong relationships.